Meet The artist: Raquel McKee

Racquel McKee is an individual of many talents, from storytelling to poetry to acting and singing she’s no stranger to the limelight. Racquel lives in Antrim but is originally from Jamaica. Racquel has had an interest in the arts for years and started writing from a young age. Racquel got her professional break when she performed a storytelling session for Book Week in her school where she teaches. The performance was so successful a piece was written for the local newspaper and Racquel began to take bookings. Racquel has also contributed to a number of radio programmes and the UKUnMute podcasts.

What genre / style do you create in?

I use a range of genres to express my creativity. Dub poetry as well as ‘page poetry’ as a fellow performance poet, Colin Hassard and I refer to it. I do prefer free verse to rhyming couplets, and that has impacted my page poetry and has led to some of my Dub Poetry being ‘non traditional’ in that sense.

In my storytelling I love to use visuals and artefacts and draw a little from my acting to add zest to the stories.

The UKUnMute podcasts … check out our Meet the Artists to find out more about the style, there.

What would you be best known for?

At the moment, I think that is a bit of a toss up. I am known in different spheres for my different products. Schools, libraries, youth groups etc know me for my storytelling. Festivals, universities, writers groups etc know me for my poetry, and some for my acting in my one woman play Pages with East Side Arts and Terra Nova Theatre Company and for the role of Asha in Lives in Translation with Kabosh Theatre Company. There is also something in the pipeline, that will take me into homes throughout the UK, but I can’t talk about that yet.

What would you consider your biggest achievement?

Perhaps the one in the pipeline…perhaps my commissioned pieces for the Links and Legacy 400 Project – Last Will and Testament of William the Enslaved. Perhaps being interviewed by Jamaica Information Service for the segment ‘Made in Jamaica’.

What would you consider to be the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your industry?

Other storytellers and writers are allies, not competitors.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

Overcoming imposter syndrome and believing in myself, especially when the norm has been to be discredited because of how I look.

Tell us a little about your personal life, are you married, kids, hobbies etc?

I am married with 4 sons! I’m still coming to terms with being the only female in my house when I grew up in a home dominated by females…I am passionate about Jesus and delight in spending time in worship and the scriptures.

Tell us about your most recent work?

I am working on something now with the working title ‘Sisters in Black’ that traces solidarity of women over particular issues.

What would you like us to tell people about?

I would like to tell people about my YouTube channel which has samples of my work. I would also mention the UKUnMute podcasts which can be found on You Tube, Spotify, Google Podcast , i-tunes podcast, Audioboom etc. The episode Culture Shock we submitted for Culture Night is particularly funny.

If you had to describe your work to someone who has never heard of you what would you say?

You woulda haffi hear it! Check out a few on YouTube.

UKUnmute Youtube channel >> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCawJSotjT9JW0poRAzGA_cg

What’s the funniest experience you’ve had in your business?

Perhaps the Culture Shock episode on UKUnmute.

What would your advice be to young people hoping to pursue the same industry?

Go for it! Make sure you think through the financial security aspect of it, because life as an artist is financially challenging, but definitely Go for it! Loving what you do is a huge blessing in life.

Anything else you want to tell people about yourself or your work?

The best is yet to come. Thanks to all the people who have supported and encouraged me – from the Arts Council, Community Arts Partnership, Terra Nova, Women Aloud, my family and friends and others. I will be a part of Poetry in Motion Schools Project October 20 – March 21; Cúirt International Festival of Literature from 10th-14th November 2020 and Four Corners Festival in January 2021. And thanks to every one who will go and check out my work after reading this. I have lots more to give, so watch this space.

You can follow Racquel on Twitter here >> https://twitter.com/MckeeRaquel

Who do you look up to and why?

Jamaican performance poet Louise Bennett Coverley who wrote in Jamaican Creole and fostered a pride in Jamaican identity. Maya Angelou who did a huge job in putting black female poets on the map. Linton Kwesi Johnson being a forerunner with Dub poetry in the UK. Mervyn Morris my University lecturer, former Poet laureate of Jamaica and now friend. But most of all Jesus – my mentor and friend, counsellor and director.

Racquel was part of the showcase line up for this years Culture Night Belfast Online 2020. View her Lockdown Dub Poetry performance here >> https://www.culturenightbelfast.com/cnb-showcase-lockdown-dub/

For more information visit The Culture Night Belfast website here>> https://www.culturenightbelfast.com/cnb-online-2020-events/

 

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